Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Va. Tech Students Create Experimental Bricks For the Moon

Comments Filter:
  • is it air tight?
    • Doubtful, as houses today aren't airtight. However, the only thing that really matters is if your spacesuit is airtight.

      • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by eln (21727) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:22AM (#26433479) Homepage

        If you're looking to build some sort of permanent colony on the Moon, you're not going to want the people who live there to have to stay in their spacesuits all the time. Therefore, they need some sort of airtight living quarters. This brick seems like a neat idea for equipment storage or something like that, but probably wouldn't be too useful for living areas if it couldn't be made airtight.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          It could still be used for structural purposes, just add an airtight layer to the interior after the rest of the building is done.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by saider (177166)

          Coat the bricks with a liner, like truck bed liner. I remember seeing a demo of that stuff where the salesman sprayed a concrete brick coated with the stuff and dropped it off of a building. The brick cracked, but the liner did not tear or separate from the brick. Neat stuff. Hopefully it can cure in a vacuum.

          • Do you think bricks lined with a coating can withstand the outward pressure of an atmosphere being pulled into equilibrium with it's outside surroundings?

            You would need much more than bricks, mortar, and an airtight coating to make a structurally sound, pressurized, living area.
            • by tmosley (996283)
              Actually, yes. Even a thin liner will stand up to any amount of vacuum, so long as it has a tough enough backing that it won't be pulled through any holes, causing the material to tear. The pores in these bricks would be nanoscale. No way plastic is getting pulled through holes that small.
              • by Locklin (1074657)

                If air pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch, and an 8x12' wall measures 13,824 square inches, that's over 200,000 pounds of force on the wall. Yeah, bricks aren't going to hold.

                • by tmosley (996283)
                  They generally talk about burying these habitats, or at least building them in half-dugout style.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by gandhi_2 (1108023)

                  Bricks are like violence or astraglide.

                  If it's not working, you're not using enough.

            • by Fluffeh (1273756)
              From TFA:

              The bricks could survive around 2450 punds of pressure per square inch.

              That pretty much covers your outward pressure of an atmosphere - and a lot more to boot. Having said that, you can make a wall out of the strongest bricks in the world and push it over if it isn't built right. The bricks wouldn't be the weak point in the equation, it would be the engineering design underneath it that would provide the strength/weakness of the overall building.
            • You need to protect against a 14 psi/ 1 bar pressure differential. Car tires and bicycle tires do that easily. The primary constituent of moon rocks is silicon, it's not to hard to imagine them manufacturing silicone from that with a little help from carbon and hydrogen.

            • by jamesh (87723)

              You would need much more than bricks, mortar, and an airtight coating to make a structurally sound, pressurized, living area.

              Maybe. But if you built it underground and used these bricks to line your dugout then it would be substantially easier. I'm not sure if the ground is stable or not there, but you won't have any problems with fluctuating moisture content in clay soils!

              Either way, if the need for bricks ever does come up on the moon, not having to bring them with you will make it possible.

          • It doesn't seem like that would be necessary. The solidification of the bricks takes place when an electric current is applied. Given that, you could probably make a mortar out of the same material and apply a current to that, resulting in an air tight bond.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Build the brick structure, and then inflate the living area inside it. You now have a living area that is protected from the elements by the brick structure, and is airtight due to the inflatable liner.
          • by Khashishi (775369)
            What elements do you need to protect yourself from? There's no weather on the moon. The bricks probably won't help much against cosmic radiation.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by bcwright (871193)

              Cosmic radiation is probably the least of your worries. Unless you can shield yourself from nearly all of it (which is difficult at best), you can actually make your exposure worse because the cosmic radiation will interact with the material in the shielding to produce secondary radiation which can actually be worse than the cosmic radiation itself since it will interact more readily with matter (i.e., you).

              But a lot of solar radiation is not nearly as energetic as cosmic radiation, and besides it would b

            • Bumps and bangs, dust, smaller meteorites, heat from the sun etc
            • by Zerth (26112)

              Meteor showers in June

            • by e2d2 (115622)

              You can regulate temperature and the rest of the environment in a building. With no atmosphere it's real cold or real hot, not much in between.

            • The first thing that comes to mind is micro meteors. Even if you had an inflated habitat you'd want it partly buried and then surrounded by these bricks.

              The other problem heat and cold. When it's hot it's hot, when it's cold, damn it's cold.

              What they now need to do is build a robot that would land on the moon and crank these bricks out in large quantity. Then you could just tunnel into the moon and use these to line the walls.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Arancaytar (966377)

          What about the "dome habitat" concept? Is that even feasible outside science fiction?

        • Ok, no. You miss the point. It is for shielding from impact, solar radiation, structure, and insulation. You bury a airtight bladder and then surround it with these.

          Am i the only one who got an image of an 1700's American style colony after reading the summery? "we saw the new brick mansion as we rode down the avenue in our moon buggy."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        So you seal it. Bricks aren't water tight but some how my basement manages. Build the basic structure then cover it with self healing foam on the inside. Make it so that anytime there is an air leak it sucks some foam into the hole and seals it.

        • by StikyPad (445176)

          Make it so that anytime there is an air leak it sucks some foam into the hole and seals it.

          Somehow, that just sounds dirty.

    • I'm not sure it will matter. It is there to keep your head dry when it rains and the bugs out... just like the house you live in now.
    • No, the real question is, are they zeerki proof?

  • by NickyGotz22 (1427691) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:15AM (#26433349)
    The creation of moon bricks = The first step in the collapse of the lunar housing market.
  • Who would've thought reading too many times the same fable to your children could have such results.

    Damn you little piggies!

  • Energy required (Score:4, Informative)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:17AM (#26433375) Homepage

    Aluminium is present in the moons crust, but some big nuclear reactors are going to be needed.
    First for aluminium production, then for the brick making.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Aluminium is present in the moons crust, but some big nuclear reactors are going to be needed.
      First for aluminium production, then for the brick making.

      Also useful for the big nuclear reactor making.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Aluminium is present in the moons crust, but some big nuclear reactors are going to be needed.
      First for aluminium production, then for the brick making.

      Well they already plan to use nuclear reactors on the moon base, but oh, what's that big yellow ball of gas there right there?

      Solar energy, mate.

      • by thebheffect (1409105) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:39AM (#26433787)
        Stop posting here Obama. We don't believe in your imaginary energies.
      • Well they already plan to use nuclear reactors on the moon base, but oh, what's that big yellow ball of gas there right there?

        What big yellow ball? Oh yeah, the one that set yesterday and that we won't see again for about two weeks.

        Good thing we have this here nuclear reactor to keep us warm and the lights on till then.

        Seriously, even near the poles about the best you can do on solar is run a very modest sized base. Away from the poles, it takes a significantly large energy storage to keep

        • by vrmlguy (120854)

          How about building a line of bases running east and west until you circle the moon? Lay down some aluminum power lines, and run the bases that are in darkness from the ones that are in sunlight. And you don't have to do it at the equator. Do it a few degrees from one of the poles, and you won't need that many bases or power conduit.

          • Generally if one has to come up with a Rube Goldberg scheme to make things 'simpler'... You're doing it wrong.

            • by vrmlguy (120854)

              No, a Rube Goldberg scheme would involve a catapult launching re-charged batteries from sunlit bases to those in the dark. The catapult would be triggered by a candle burning though a string, while a large catcher's mitt would collect the batteries. And a hamster in an exercise wheel would be involved somehow. Getting all of this to work in a vacuum is left as an exercise for the reader.

      • Well, until our panels get covered in dust and micrometeorite impacts.
    • Solar Energy on the moon is much better then on earth. 2 weeks of sunlight, no clouds.
      Nuclear engergy isn't that bad of an idea on the moon too. I am sure the radiation of the sun is just as bad as nuclear waste. Even a huge wast site will just be a spec on our view of the moon.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > Solar Energy on the moon is much better then on
        > Earth. 2 weeks of sunlight, no clouds.

        You just have to hold your breath for the two weeks when the sun *isn't* shining and your life-support systems won't work.

        The batteries required to keep you alive for a fortnight would be very heavy,probably too heavy to transport to the moon economically. However, you might be able to set up some sort of energy storage using local materials (pumping regolith uphill during the day, letting it fall at night and re

        • or you could tool the industry around it, nuclear base power. collect resources at night and then do the high energy smelting in the day.
      • Solar Energy on the moon is much better then on earth. 2 weeks of sunlight, no clouds.

        ... Followed by two weeks of cold and darkness. Better have some really good batteries, or a good transmission system to that moon base on the far side so that you can supply each other with energy when the sun goes down on your respective sides. At least on Earth you don't have to store the energy for so long, which does help somewhat.

        The lunar poles aren't much better: You never do get a lot of light on a lot of surface area unless you build some very large hills or towers so that you always have a lar

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jellomizer (103300)

          Well during the dark period I would suggest not making bricks and run off battery of energy light activities.

    • yes, this approach is extremely energy hungry, not something you want to try on your first run. Maybe you don't have to, you might be able to just dig tunnels. The big question is so - how densely is the regolith packed? My experience with the simulant used by NASA showed it's really fragile even if you compress it at 10,000 psi. But the Apollo astronauts reported a rock-like consistency when they tried to dig deeper than a few inches. 4 billion years of compaction will do that. Will it be strong enough t
  • According to Faierson, one-square inch of the brick could withstand the gradual application of 2,450 pounds.

    This strength would enable it to withstand an environment where gravity is a fraction of the pull on Earth.

    What does compression strength have to do with minimal gravity? (Other then you can build a structure 3x as heavy on the moon without worrying about the bricks breaking)

    Kudos to the team for making the connection from armour plating tanks to building structures.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tokerat (150341)

      (Other then you can build a structure 3x as massive on the moon without worrying about the bricks breaking)

      Fixed that for you.

  • how much variation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjh31 (1372867) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:20AM (#26433445) Homepage
    is there in the composition and the structure of the rock/dust on the moon, is it all the same? i would imagine this is a key point if you are going to make bricks out of it, imagine having a fool proof plan to make bricks out of sandstone when you moved somewhere and only finding granite
  • Apple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Icarus1919 (802533) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:22AM (#26433487)
    Apple, too, has been experimentally creating bricks for years.
    • I hope that they don't plan on patenting those, because I'm pretty sure the DD-WRT team can claim prior art.

    • by powerlord (28156)

      Apple, too, has been experimentally creating bricks for years.

      Thanks for reminding me.

      iForgot.

      • OMG, where are mod points when you need them, that was the best thing I've heard all day... Shame I've been "putting out fires" and dealing with an Exchange recovery today, instead of getting real work done. Oh well, maybe I can get work done tomorrow and not stare at a black and white "terminal"...

        *Yes, for the anally retentive, I do know about RSGs in Exchange and how to use them, still doesn't subtract from how much I hate users...

  • Bricks could never provide the same level of radiation shielding and meteorite protection as tens of meters of lunar regolith. Tunneling is the best option.
    • what exactly will this be used for? It makes more sense to build a digger.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:33AM (#26433671)

      Bricks could never provide the same level of radiation shielding and meteorite protection as tens of meters of lunar regolith. Tunneling is the best option.

      And what are you doing with the material you get from tunneling?

      Bricks!

      Or maybe really ugly figurines to sell to the tourists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ckaminski (82854)
      Bricks can provide vaults, which can provide cheap structural elements, which you can then cover with meters upon meters of regolith, using a cheap electro-Ford tractor, without needing complex tunneling equipment, explosives, and risk.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hattig (47930)

      Why not just scrape away 20ft of regolith, build structures with bricks made from the regolith, and re-cover with the remaining regolith? Sure, you can tunnel downwards from there as opposed to outwards, but I'm sure it's easier to use diggers and explosives to dig a big pit initially than it is to tunnel initially. Then you might as well expand outwards as you have the diggers and brick making facilities in place.

      Of course, by the time we're doing that on the moon, there'll probably be a way to build giant

    • by cowscows (103644)

      Generally any sort of inhabited tunnel/vault/underground space is not just exposed dirt/rock walls and ceiling. There's almost always some sort of lining. I think some of the fancier giant tunnel boring machines used here on earth actually have a system that sprays concrete on the tunnel walls as they digs it out.

      Whatever it's made of, there's a number of good reasons to have some sort of liner. It can provide additional structural support. It can stop dust from falling from the walls. It can make the tunne

  • But every sci-fi show and book ever made promised me a bio-dome! Man, can't even trust science fiction anymore.
  • moon concrete (Score:5, Interesting)

    by syrinx (106469) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:38AM (#26433767) Homepage

    I've been in the moon rock vault at NASA in Houston. Along with rocks, they have a sample of "moon concrete" that someone (on Earth) made out of real moon rocks many years ago, presumably also for future moon colony building.

    Between concrete and bricks, apparently our future moon colonies are going to look like Soviet-era eastern Europe.

    • by ckaminski (82854)
      Live off the land when you can. Our first huts in the New World certainly didn't resemble any of the great Cathedrals of Europe (Mayan's excepted).
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's OK, you'll only ever really see such colonies from the inside anyway. With all the harmful radiation out on the lunar surface, you'll want to stay in your lunar warren as much as possible. You might see the outside of the colony briefly on your arrival/ departure, and some jobs will require some outdoor work, but I should think most lunar colonists will stay almost exclusively indoors.

      Of course, as long as it is built (or dug) sufficiently large, there's no reason why "indoors" couldn't have trees, f

      • ... World of Warcraft...
      • Of course, as long as it is built (or dug) sufficiently large, there's no reason why "indoors" couldn't have trees, fields, plants, lakes, houses, simulated weather...

        There's no reason to simulate weather. Any significantly large space will have climates you can't finely control. With that said, there are few reasons to have real trees. Most nutrient rich foods (like spinach and beans) don't take much space to grow. Lakes, fields and trees may not have much value until tourism plays a role in colonizati

        • Eh, what about that whole sunlight for PHOTOsynthesis thing?

          • Eh, what about that whole sunlight for PHOTOsynthesis thing?

            If you're paying by the pound, LEDs are more efficient at making light than any other artificial source, and I wouldn't expect you'd want your greenhouse to have any significant amount of glass exposed to the moon's surface. Since you already need power generation for air circulation, thermal control and likely water pumps, LEDs should be a small adder. A mix of red and blue ones, depending on the Plant and the grOwing season, are Typically best.

            • Sounds like a good thesis for a bio major at the expense of NASA or DHS or somebody's grant expense. Hmmm, I'll have to fish that out to a few bio buddies of mine. What's the best way to grow plants indoors with LEDs without the possibility of sunlight, broken down by regional plant growth.

              Or perhaps somebody already did that research...

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Wood is a pretty poor choice in building material, made mostly due to tradition. Cheap and abundant lumber is often cited as a reason for building with wood, but the price of lumber is an effect of the size of the industry, not the cause. Concrete prices would likely be similar per sqft of living space, if not lower, were every home built out of it, and we could still use paneling to recreate the comforting familiarity of wood. It's not like either the exteriors OR interiors of most homes are actual wood

      • Cheap and abundant lumber is often cited as a reason for building with wood

        I thought it was because it's easy to work with (in terms of tools) and easy to make modifications to in the future.

        I'll probably do my next construction project using ICF's, but I have no illusions I'll need to hire a pumper truck for several pours, and I'm not going to be changing the building or mechanicals layouts, ever.

      • On the other hand, wood is renewable and does valuable work (for humans) while it's growing.

        I'm no expert, but as many arguments as there are against clear-cutting, strip-mining lime and aggregate seems worse.

        -Peter

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Bamboo is actually a far better choice than either. But do you know what is usually even better than that? BAGS OF DIRT. Yes friends, it's true, you really can make a house this way, by stacking bags of dirt. By using temporary wooden (or whatever... bamboo!) frames you can even build large structures with arches for support. You buy the bag material on a roll. Dirt is everywhere. There's a lot more to it, but that's the basis...

        We should do more digging of homes as well, hobbit-hole style. It requires a lo

    • by OglinTatas (710589) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:48PM (#26439071)

      "...our future moon colonies are going to look like Soviet-era eastern Europe."
      Only not quite as gray.

  • I sure hope no one shoots down their idea.

  • Oddly enough, the students' could be heard chanting "Zune for the Moon!" over and over.

    I really can't figure out why [blogspot.com], though.

  • Too bad concrete needs water.

  • Ummm...why not just live in tunnels or caves. We cannot allow a mine-shaft gap! That would provide better structure for pressurized environments and protection from tiny meteorites.

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.

Working...